As you may have the misfortune to recall, last week, a recording of a phone conversation between Mel Gibson and his former partner, Oksana Grigorieva, with whom he has a baby daughter, was made public, and, in that recording, Gibson is heard telling Grigorieva, "You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n****rs, it will be your fault, and using the anti-Latin@ immigrant slur "wetback."
This week, a second recording—and much longer, at 8 minutes—has been made public, in which Gibson admits beating Grigorieva while she held their baby in her arms, telling her she deserved it, and threatens to kill her, among other breathtaking ugliness, peppered with vile misogyny.
All of which is background for this Reuters story in which it is reported that Gibson has been dropped as a client by the William Morris agency. Ya know, not because he's a dangerously violent misogynist, but because all that racism makes it hard to sell tickets.
When William Morris Endeavor dropped Mel Gibson as a client last week, sources at the agency cited the star's misconduct as the reason.This calculation is patently absurd: Plenty of (white male) celebrities who have engaged in public racism have been given multiple chances. They do their penance by keeping their heads down and staying out of view for awhile, and then—poof!—Imus has his own show again, and—voila!—Michael Richards has his old role back on the Curb Your Enthusiasm Seinfeld non-reunion, and he's lambasting his racist tirade to boot, har har. The countdown clock is already ticking down the minutes until we can celebrate the career resurgence of Jesse James. And of course, we've been down this road with Mel Gibson before, too. Et cetera.
Its revulsion may be genuine, but the decision also was based on the bottom line, a calculation that Gibson no longer has real monetary value to the agency.
"There's nothing to do for Mel Gibson at the moment," a William Morris source said. "No one will touch him with a 10-foot pole. He'll make his own movies, but you don't commission those anyway."
Hollywood has routinely overlooked reprehensible, even illegal behavior when there's money to be made. And observers -- including a studio chief and an insider at William Morris -- said the industry might even have gotten past Gibson's alleged assault on his former girlfriend. (Consider Charlie Sheen.)
But the repeated allegations of bigoted comments have left his relationship with the public in tatters, and that's a deal-breaker. With tapes surfacing in which Gibson apparently used unforgivable language when referring to African-Americans and Latinos, he has antagonized two groups that are disproportionately represented in movie audiences.
It's a nice (where "nice" equals "transparently mendacious") bit of PR to say that Gibson has been dropped because William Morris cares oh-so-deeply about (male) black and Latin@ ticketholders, but the truth comes down to this single line: "Gibson no longer has real monetary value to the agency." If there were a penny left to be earned, his agent would still be taking his calls. That's the only principle, such as it is, that matters.
And what I find interesting, ahem, about the calculation of this PR maneuver is that William Morris' "anonymous insider" didn't even feel obliged to throw a sop to women. In fact, they threw a sop to misogynists: "Hey, if it was only the misogynist epithets and death threats and domestic violence, maybe we could overlook this whole thing, just like we did for Charlie Sheen. But our hands are tied."
By those sensitive brown people.
The whole thing is essentially a stunt to reassure white racist misogynist men, men like Mel Gibson, that William Morris will support them as long as they're cash cows.
So, go ahead, Russell Crowe—throw that phone! Go ahead, Christian Bale—have that indulgent tirade on set! Go ahead, Kiefer Sutherland—jump into ALL the Christmas trees!
We got you.
Hollywood liberalism blah blah.